Primary school teachers in Northern Ireland are set to benefit from access to an initiative that provides free training workshops and resources - thanks to support from Ciena, a global networking systems, services and software company.

The Barefoot initiative, which supports teachers to teach computing, recently secured funding from Ciena to radically expand its reach in NI and to enable the appointment of a dedicated coordinator for the program. The Barefoot project is run by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and Computing at School. Since its launch in 2014, Barefoot has reached over 85,000 primary teachers across the UK (including teachers in NI) with its free workshops and resources.

Recently, Barefoot along with other key partners and the Department for Education created an innovative set of resources for primary school teachers which enabled children to have their say about safeguarding the planet’s future during COP26. The aim of the ‘Climate Champions’ project was to develop pupils’ digital skills, get them thinking about climate change and to communicate their ideas using a variety of tech tools.

Dr. Irene Bell, Chair, Computing at School, Northern Ireland said: “This is great news. Barefoot focuses on enabling a high-quality computing education for all pupils through resources and professional development workshops for teachers. The plan is to bring on Ciena staff as Barefoot Volunteers to run our workshops and over the next four years we aim to reach all schools across NI.”

The collaboration was officially launched with a special event at Ciena’s Belfast Office. It included presentations setting out Barefoot and Ciena's vision to expand digital learning and bridge the digital divide in Northern Ireland by training the volunteers and showcasing local pupils who have already benefited from Barefoot.

Alison Wilson, Vice President of Fulfillment Operations at Ciena, said: “Through its Digital Inclusion program, Ciena is committed to making a difference in the communities where our employees live and work. With technology continuing to play an increasingly important part in our day to day lives - it’s vital that we help prepare young people for future careers in the technology sector.

“This is a chance for us to give back and allows those who would rarely cross paths during their regular working hours to collaborate and advance their shared interest of serving our community and expand student opportunities.”

About BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
BCS is the UK’s Chartered Institute for IT. The purpose of BCS as defined by its Royal Charter is to promote and advance the education and practice of computing for the benefit of the public. We bring together industry, academics, practitioners and government to share knowledge, promote new thinking, inform the design of new curricula, shape public policy and inform the public.

Please note our correct title is: BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (NOT The British Computer Society.)

About Ciena
Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) is a networking systems, services and software company. We provide solutions that help our customers create the Adaptive NetworkTM in response to the constantly changing demands of their end-users. By delivering best-in-class networking technology through high-touch consultative relationships, we build the world’s most agile networks with automation, openness and scale. For updates on Ciena, follow us on Twitter @Ciena, LinkedIn, the Ciena Insights blog, or visit

Ciena's Digital Inclusion Program
Ciena’s Digital Inclusion program aims to mobilize the company’s global workforce, leverage its innovation leadership, and collaborate with customers, suppliers and other partners to bridge the digital divide. Ciena has committed to fund $10 million (USD) over a five-year period on programming that promotes digital inclusion through greater connectivity, access to technology and digital skilling, with a goal of expanding opportunities for 100,000 underserved students in our global communities.

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